Cycling ace Diana reflects on 10 years of life after her transplant

 

Diana Higman is marking ten years since her life was saved thanks to her hero, her donor, Helen. Diana wanted to mark this anniversary with her friends to thank, and think of Helen’s family and friends for the gift of life that she gave.

It was back in 2008 when, aged 45, Diana started to feel tired. She was in the midst of doing her nursing training, and had sadly lost her father.

Diana said: “I went to the doctor and he suggested that I have some blood tests but he thought that it was probably stress. I went for the blood tests and was immediately admitted to the Royal Derby where they carried out more tests on me, without finding any answers.”

Two weeks later, Diana went for a scan and that evening, doctors told her that she needed an emergency liver transplant and she was blue-lighted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Diana was put on the Super Urgent List, meaning that doctors estimated that she had 72 hours to live.
Diana said: “I was so scared, miles away from home and all alone. Two days after I arrived in Birmingham, the team said that they had found a liver for me.”

Following a test later that day, doctors found that the liver was too big and wouldn’t fit so they had to keep looking. Time was running out for Diana. Thankfully, a suitable liver became available and Diana had her transplant.

Diana said: “When I came out of hospital in February 2009 I couldn’t walk, open a bottle of milk or get off the sofa without help. I had lost all my muscular strength, but my aim was to take part in sport again.”

Diana had been a keen swimmer, finding 50 lengths an easy challenge, but after her transplant she had to start again from scratch, swimming with a rubber ring. Keen to take on another challenge, Diana bought a second hand bike and took on a race in Bath in 2010.

The World Transplant Games in 2011 was the inspiration for Diana’s training, and she picked up a bronze medal in cycling. She said: “This hoes to show with a positive attitude and a lot of hard work, anything is possible.”

The next big challenge for Diana was the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. She said: “My training went up to another level as I was determined to get a gold medal. This was not only to promote organ donation but to do my organ donor proud, to say to them that signing the organ donation register would show what a difference it could do to someone’s life.”

Diana achieved her ambition and took the gold medal, with her mum and her daughters watching on. Diana’s success did not end there, going on to win two gold medals in cycling at the 2015 games in Argentina, and two gold medals in the 2017 games in Malaga, despite temperatures of over 30 degrees.

The Malaga games were particularly poignant for Diana, as she competed not only for her donor Helen, but for her friend Alice who had passed away earlier in 2017.

Diana said: “Alice and I always said we wanted to ride in the games together but this sadly was not to be. On that day, Alice was firmly in my sights and my thoughts.”

Find out more about organ donation here:

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